The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is committed to providing care for vulnerable populations within the communities they serve. Each year our County is confronted with a growing need among our aging populations for safe, secure and convenient assisted living care where faith is ever-present.

For nearly 10 years, the Diocese of Orange has been planning a first-of-its-kind Catholic faith-based senior living community on a 7.25 acre site that it has owned for more than 50 years in north Tustin, commonly known as Springs at Bethsaida.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the Springs at Bethsaida Senior Living Project on a 4-1 vote more than four years ago on March 13, 2011.

The Board also certified the accompanying Environmental Impact Report and adopted an amendment to the North Tustin Specific Plan that added the Senior Residential Housing (SRH) land use district. The Board concluded that the 153 unit senior living community was compatible with the County General Plan and the North Tustin Specific Plan that govern development in this area. While the approvals were challenged in court, the court ultimately denied the challenges and ruled in favor of the Diocese and the senior housing project.

In January in an unprecedented move, a member of the Orange County Supervisors asked his newly-elected colleagues to revisit the approved senior living facility and proposed a zone change to the site that would kill the project. This proposed zone change was sent to the Planning Commission by the Board for their review prior to final approval. On November 9, 2015, the Orange County Planning Commission voted in a 3 – 0 vote to retain the SRH land use designation, recommending that the project move forward.

The Diocese of Orange remains committed to ensuring that seniors benefit from a caring and loving environment where the celebration of faith can remain at the center of their lives as they age. The Springs at Bethsaida is a key project in fulfilling the Church’s mission to the elderly and we continue to hope that this project will become a reality. The Diocese has made numerous concessions to the community to ensure that the project fits beautifully with the residential character of North Tustin.

On Tuesday December 15, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will make its final decision on the future of this project. We hope that they will consider the needs of the entire community, especially seniors, and vote to allow the project to move forward.

Bill Milligan is a Director of Real Estate at the Diocese of Orange.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue please contact Voice of OC  Publisher Norberto Santana at nsantana@voiceofoc.org.

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